Warner Bros and DC Animation have released the third installment in the Son of Batman series, Batman: Bad Blood. Fans of the Batman comic series will be familiar with the story: Bruce Wayne is either dead or missing and it’s up to his protégés to not only find him, but also keep Gotham safe from criminal scum who’ve noticed the dark knight isn’t patrolling.
The team of J. M. DeMatteis (writer) and Jay Oliva (director) once again bring a fun dynamic to a story that’s already been read. Fans have been most critical of the animated films being direct copies of the comics. The producers and writers have worked diligently to expound upon the established legacy. Their world can be viewed as an alternate universe or timeline. Same characters, but they’re introduced in a new order and thus have different experiences than what we’re used to.
Damien Wayne is the second Robin in this series, Batwoman was taken under Bruce’s wing before Barbara Gordon, and Batwing is already a primary player. At the Los Angeles premier, producer James Tucker, was most excited to introduce Tim Drake as Robin after Damien. “What is it like for Batman, who’s had his son fighting by his side, to take on a new Robin?”
There are a lot of firsts in this film, including three new characters. Katherine Kane, aka Batwoman, makes her animation debut. Played adequately by Yvonne Strahovski, Kane is a capable fighter and the catalyst of the story. Points to DC for putting an open lesbian character in an animated film. There’s a great bar scene in which Kane meets Renee Montoya and openly flirts. They even have dinner with Kane’s dad!
My favorite new character is Batwing. Batwing is Lucius Fox’ son, Luke and is often considered the first black batman. He’s voiced by Gaius Charles (Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy) who brings an incredible amount of light to the character. Batwing is funny, but he’s also the last member of the crew to join and is doing his best to live up to his new suit, designed by his father; which is a heavy theme circling this movie. Damien tries to live up to Bruce, Nightwing steps into Batman shoes, Batwoman is trying to avenge her sister and mother.
This is also the first time we see Barbara Gordon in the Babs Tarr design and she is glorious! Spoilers, she doesn’t speak and is only in the film for fifteen seconds, but it’s enough to sustain until the 2017 film where (fingers crossed) there will be much more Barbara. But will she fall in love with Dick Grayson or Luke Fox?
This is also the first time Heretic has been animated. The creators did take liberties with the character design, but I think we can all agree it was for the best.
If you’re more of a villains fan there’s no shortage of those either. In Bad Blood you’ll find Firefly, Blackmask, Penguin, Blockbuster, Tusk, The Mad Hatter, Electrocutioner, Hellhound, Killer Moth, and everyone’s favorite Talia al Ghul. I was particularly excited to see Onyx a black, female member of the League of Assassins. In the comics she retired from the league and joined Batman. I’m hoping we’ll see more of vigilante Onyx in the near future.
The most impressive aspects of the film were the fight scenes. Each character has unique fighting style specific to their origin story. Except for the final fight scene, no fight has a clear winner. Even when someone comes out victorious each fighter is left with severe damage.
Overall this film is worth renting on Amazon. It’s fun, well cast, and has some of the best fight scenes in Batman’s animated history. There’s some great homages for old fans and tons of new character for those just entering the Batman mythos. Kids eight and over shouldn’t be bothered by the fight scenes and swearing is kept to a minimum.